Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Driving Restrictions For All

In light of a fatal local automobile accident involving a 16-year-old boy and considering the fact that my 16-year-old daughter will soon be in this group of young drivers, I thought other parents in my part of southern New England might be interested in knowing the restrictions for teenage drivers in Connecticut.
After getting a license, 16- and 17-year-olds will have passenger restrictions during the first six months of driving. Other restrictions apply until a driver is 18.

- Passenger restrictions for first three months: Only parents or legal guardians (at least one of whom holds a license), or not more than one passenger who is a driving instructor licensed by the DMV, or a person who is at least 20 years old who has had a license for four years and has not had his or her license suspended during that period.

- Passenger restrictions during the second three months: The only additional passengers are members of the teenage driver’s immediate family.

- Until age 18, teenage drivers may not transport more passengers than the number of seat belts in the vehicle.

- Any driver issued a motorcycle endorsement may not transport a passenger for the first six months.

- Driving is prohibited between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. unless the teenager is traveling for employment, school, religious activities or for a medical necessity, or if he of she is an assigned driver in a Safe Ride program.

- These restrictions do not apply to active members of a volunteer fire company or department, a volunteer ambulance service or company, or an emergency medical service organization who are responding to emergency calls.

- Until 18, teenage drivers may not use cell phones, even if they are “hands-free,” or mobile electronic devices while driving. A “mobile electronic device” includes any hand-held computer or other device with any type of video display.
Frankly, I am a little confused by the restriction that teenage drivers may not transport more passengers than the number of seat belts in a vehicle. That seems like common sense for any driver, not just teenagers: four seat belts, four people in the car. What confuses me even more is a statement by a young friend of the boy who died, a statement that was published in a letter to the editor of The Day newspaper:
I do not know of one person who has followed the two laws that The Day accused Cam [the decedent] of defying.
The two laws referred to in this statement are the restriction about driving after midnight and the restriction about driving with passengers in the car. If I am to believe the young person who wrote this letter, then a majority of our local teens are habitually violating the driving laws. Also, the implication of this statement is that local parents are either unaware of this illegal activity or are complicit in the violation of the aforementioned driving restrictions (please note, I count silence and lack of intervention as complicity). If so, then all I have say is, poor form all around, folks. For the sake of everyone, obey and enforce these restrictions. They exist for our safety and protection. If they had been followed last Sunday, three people might still be alive.

List of driving restrictions was copied from an article in The Day newspaper, January 31, 2007.

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